Word Made Global, by Mark R. Gornik

Over ten years ago Andrew Walls, the renowned historian and mission theologian, with whom I was studying at Princeton Theological Seminary, mentioned that one of his students had begun researching African immigrant churches in New York City. The student, according to Walls, was literally walking block by block in the city looking for these churches, of which very little was known at the time. Mark Gornik, I later learned, was that student. Word Made Global presents wonderful insights based on his ten years of painstaking and brilliant ethnographic research.

Gornik, the director of City Seminary in New York and the founding pastor (now emeritus) of New Song Community Church in Baltimore, explores the Christian movements in Africa that have crossed over into New York City and are putting down roots there. Embedded in this larger narrative are stories of African immigrants who, despite the strain and stress of living in New York, strive to live by Christian beliefs and practices that they also passionately propagate.

By Gornik's count, African immigrants have established about 150 congregations in New York City. These are diverse in size, country of origin, membership, theological beliefs and religious practices. Several of them, Gornik notes, have no permanent place of worship and meet in rented storefronts, "converted basements" and "borrowed sanctuaries." To help the reader appreciate the wide variety of these African churches, he gives us a panoramic view of Ethiopian Orthodox, Catholic, Pentecostal, independent, francophone and Liberian congregations located in all of New York City's five boroughs. Gornik also reveals the complex local and global networks that exist among these churches, their home denominations and countries, and many Pentecostal and charismatic movements within and outside the United States.